The Times Gets It Wrong With Story On Crusade To Stop Anti-Gay E-Tailer

Though the gay press picked up the story some time ago, The Gray Lady just reported today on the Charity Giveback Group, an online shopping portal that funds anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

The national battle was ignited in July by Stuart Wilber, a 73-year-old gay man in Seattle. He was astonished, he said, when he learned that people who bought Microsoft products through a Christian-oriented Internet marketer known as Charity Giveback Group, or CGBG, could channel a donation to evangelical organizations that call homosexual behavior a threat to the moral and social fabric.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding, Microsoft,’ ” he recalled, noting that the software giant — like many other corporations accessible through the commerce site, including Apple and Netflix — was known as friendly to gay causes.

While we’re glad the Times is covering the story, their portrayal of the situation as a “battle” in the ongoing culture wars suggests this is just some ideological tiff between two viewpoints—framing FRC and Focus as harmless-sounding “prominent conservative evangelical groups.” In fact, writer Erik Ekholm spends a great deal of the piece on the debate over whether the organizations are  “hate groups.” (Quotation marks are put around the term when Wilber refers to them as such.) The piece also uses loaded words like “fighting back” to describe CGBG’s actions.

Peep this passage:

On one side are angry gay-rights advocates and bloggers, wielding the club of the gay community’s purchasing power.

On the other side are conservative Christian groups that say they are being attacked for their legitimate biblical views of sex and marriage, as well as a Web marketing firm that feels trampled for providing consumers with free choice.

Hmm, which faction sounds more rational and reasonable?

It’s unlikely Ekholm or the Times are fans of the religious wingnuts. But, perhaps because because of a desire to juice up the story, the piece leans too heavily in favor of CGBC and its allies. There is only one brief quote from Wilber and a paraphrase from the Southern Poverty Law Center about hate groups. Meanwhile Mike Huckabee, presidential hopeful and a paid CGBG consultant gets to call the campaign “economic terrorism” and “un-American.”

Blogger Roy Steele who started his own campaign against CGBC and is mentioned in Sunday’s article, told Queerty the piece was postponed and then edited down significantly for space.

“Erik said that he might be constrained by column inches, which would have an affect on how he could tell the story. After it was pushed back twice, due to space, and ‘real news’ happening in the world – I was afraid the story would never run. I’m glad that it did – even in an abridged fashion.”

Steele (at right) says the hardest part is that, “with more resources at their disposal, [CGBC and its allies] take to the air waves with their ad hominem attacks, while I’ve been largely defending our community from my little noticed blog space in a small corner of the Web.

Anyone got mad Internet or PR skills? Drop Steele a line and volunteer your services.


Images via Eli Yokley, Roy Steele

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  • Pete n SFO

    It is the blogging & the power of that shared info that these companies really have to fear… Presented with an option, who chooses to continue doing business with a company that discriminates? Not many; probably only lazy people or people that actually believe they are on a religious/moral high ground, ie: bigots.

    The conversation will change, but it will take all of us pushing back consistently.

    In a secular society, there are so many persons & groups that don’t follow tenets of this or that religion, but the truth is shown in the fact that it is the ‘gays’ that they feel the need to protest. I’m calling, ‘bullshiz’ on the bunch of ’em.

    Bigotry, masquerading as religious fervor. Same shiz, different day. Like ABC’s story on Bachman & the Pray Away the Gay with gov’t funding charade, it originated w/ a gay investigator & expanded thru the gay blogs. Increasingly, what happens here is more & more important.

  • the crustybastard

    Who could be surprised the “Old Gray Lady” got older and grayer?

    This latest example of lackwitted editorializing posing as news in a flagship paper is the reason I scarcely give a fart the entire industry is collapsing like a wet taco.

  • Cam

    The times refused to name somebody as gay in obits and marriage announcements long after other papers were doing it. This doesn’t surprise me.

  • Mike

    It could also be said that on one side are angry Christian groups that say they have at the right to limit another select group of Americans’ constitutional rights with their religious beliefs, and on the other side are LGBT Americans that are being attacked for their belief in civil liberties and are being limited by unequal protection under the law.

  • CBRad

    The NY Times is only good for the crossword puzzle. Otherwise it’s become an unreliable paper, perilously teetering on becoming an irrelevant rag.

  • Scott

    I wasn’t surprised when I saw Erik Ekholm wrote this piece. This guy is a bigot himself. He’s written many pieces about the LBGT community for the NY Times, and they are always negative. It pisses me off that you can’t even make comments on the NYTimes site! Erik Ekholm should be removed from writing about LGBT issues if he can’t remain at the very least neutral- especially when he is the primary writer about LGBT issues for the Times. The Times should be ashamed of themselves, for what I can only assume is pandering to the right by using this asshat as their LGBT writer.

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